Love’s Crushing Diamond tentatively but harmoniously spends a few minutes finding its feet until Jordan Lee’s voice unassumingly enters the fray. He doesn’t demand your attention and you’d be forgiven for letting it all pass you by. This refusal to impose itself upon the listener is probably why Mutual Benefit have gone unnoticed for the past few years, despite consistently releasing good music. Their patience and devotion to their art seems to have paid off and it doesn’t take long for LCD to prove itself to be something special.
As soon as you pay attention to Love’s Crushing Diamond, it’s hard not to be captivated by its charm and beauty. It tracks the trajectories of love in an imperfect world, prioritising optimism and escapism. Whereas much of the allure of Vampire Weekend’s Modern Vampires of the City’s came from its indecisiveness about how best to live life under the “low click of a ticking clock” with “a headstone right in front of you”, LCD derives equal majesty through its firm response to this problem. It rejects ambition and instead chooses to inhabit and find the best of the present moment, as encapsulated in openers ‘Strong River’ and ‘Golden Wake‘. Lee understands that “the river only knows to carry on” and he attempts “to stop the tyranny of that minute hand on me”. The aching vocal harmonies and natural strings support this fragile acceptance and determination, with Lee reiterating that “we weren’t made to be afraid”.
“Advanced Falconry” – the most stunning and genuine love song for a long time – immediately follows. When Lee sings “she talks softly, sees through me, says something, I can’t hear it, but I won’t forget the way she flies”, it is the embodiment of calm and his attitude to life becomes entirely understandable. Love is far from idealised here (“there’s always love, whether tattered, strained or torn”), yet the pleasure is clearly worth the pain. This acknowledgement of misfortune in the world helps LCD avoid becoming offensively “nice”. This is most manifest on the comfortingly cathartic ‘That Light That’s Blinding’, a harrowing narration of one who was completely disillusioned with the world.
During ‘C. L. Rosarian’, Jordan Lee sums up your thoughts when listening to Love’s Crushing Diamond: “sometimes beauty isn’t hard to find, when you’re around to ease my troubled mind”. LCD is a stunning, charming and – most importantly – realistic album; as an argument for optimism and following the paths of love over ambition, it’s hard to refute.